Gauguin, Cezanne and Canaletto make strange bargaining chips in a long-running legal battle between a Hasidic sect in Brooklyn and the Russian government. But Russian officials are holding works back from American museum shows over fears that the works will be seized as part of a complicated court case involving the Lubavitcher’s Rabbi’s library, according to the New York Times:
Russian officials, saying that an American court had no jurisdiction, had refused to participate in the proceedings. And after Judge Lamberth’s decision, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced it as a violation of international law. The ministry said an American court had no right to get involved in a case concerning Russian assets on Russian soil.
Russian cultural officials reacted more slowly, but by autumn they began warning Russia’s state-controlled museums that any artwork lent to the United States was at risk of being seized by the American authorities to force Russia to abide by the decision.
In an interview on Monday a lawyer for the Chabad organization confirmed that it might ask a court to confiscate art from Russia as a kind of legal hostage.
Dispute Derails Art Loans from Russian (New York Times)